Apple Crisp with Polenta Streusel

This gluten-free apple crisp is loaded with perfectly spiced apples and topped with a deliciously crunchy almond and polenta streusel! Best served warm with a big spoonful of vanilla ice cream!

I know that apple season is coming to an end, but we just had to get in one more recipe with our last apple harvest. This apple crisp is super easy to make and includes an extra special topping: a gluten-free almond and polenta streusel that is crispy, crunchy and full of flavor!

serving a portion of apple crisp

apple filling

Let’s talk apples. We tend to go with honeycrisp or gala, but something more tart like granny smith would be great here as well. And then the age-old question: to peel or not to peel? I prefer leaving the peels on the apples, as it adds a bit of flavor and texture to the crisp. But some people really don’t like that extra chewiness so feel free to peel if that sounds better to you. If you’re indifferent, I recommend giving this crisp a try with the peel on — plus, it’s less work!

When cutting up my apples, I tend to be pretty irregular. Some larger chunks, some smaller — it just adds a bit more texture. But if you’re looking for a guideline, I’d say I aim for about 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces as the average size.

Then just mix your chopped apples with a bit of cornstarch and your sweeteners and spices. I like to use a few tablespoons of brown sugar and a few tablespoons of maple syrup to sweeten the crisp, but you can add more or less to taste. And then I go for a mix of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for the spices — perfect warming flavors. And of course a dash of vanilla extract to finish it off!

individual serving of apple crisp with ice cream

polenta streusel

This delicious polenta streusel is made with a combination of gluten-free ingredients to get the perfect crisp!

  • almond flour: Almond flour replaces regular flour in this gluten-free streusel. 
  • instant polenta: Polenta adds a wonderful texture to the apple crisp and an extra layer of flavor. Just make sure you’re using instant or quick-cooking polenta for this recipe. We use this brand of instant polenta.
  • brown sugar: For a bit of extra sweetness — feel free to adjust to taste!
  • baking powder: Just a pinch creates an even more tender topping.
  • chopped pecans: Chopped pecans add an extra layer of flavor and texture to our crumble. You can substitute your favorite nuts, oats or even leave them out all together.
  • egg white: Since we’re using almond flour and polenta in place of regular flour, I’ve added one egg white to better help the streusel clump together.
  • salt: Additional flavor to balance out the sweetness.
  • butter: This is what helps to bring your streusel together. You’ll use cold butter cut into cubes and then either cut it into the streusel mixture with a pastry cutter or pulse everything in a food processor.

the perfect gluten-free apple crisp

Now let’s put it all together! Place your apple filling into a greased pie pan and then add your streusel in an even layer on top. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 F (180 C) and your apple crisp is ready to eat!

One note on the bake time: if the streusel topping is browning too quickly you can loosely cover the crumble with a piece of foil. I sometimes do this for the last 5-10 minutes, but start checking halfway through the cook time.

And for serving, don’t forget a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

apple crisp with ice cream

For more of our favorite autumn-inspired desserts, make sure to check out these recipes!

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individual serving of apple crisp with ice cream

apple crisp with polenta streusel

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  • Author: Brittney
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8
  • Diet: Gluten Free
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 40 minutes
    • Cuisine: american


apple filling

  • 5 medium (800 grams) apples (gala and honeycrisp work well)
  • 1.5 tablespoons (11 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

polenta streusel

  • ½ cup (60 grams) almond flour
  • ½ cup (80 grams) instant polenta
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup (40 grams) pecans, chopped
  • 1 large egg white
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • pinch of kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) and grease a 9 inch (23 cm) round pie pan.
  2. Core and chop the apples into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces. I prefer the flavor and texture of unpeeled apples, but the choice is yours!
  3. Gently toss all ingredients for the filling until the apple pieces are evenly coated. Transfer to the greased pie pan.
  4. Combine all ingredients for the streusel in a food processor and pulse until pea-sized crumbs form. Alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter or a pair of forks to cut the butter into the streusel mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apple filling.
  6. Bake 40 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. If the topping is browning too quickly you can loosely cover it with foil.


Polenta: For this recipe you’ll need to make sure you’re using instant polenta or quick-cooking polenta.

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